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Choctaw Nation picked to lead new anti-poverty effort

The Obama administration selected the Choctaw Nation to establish one of the first five Promise Zones and coordinate various groups to improve life in chronically poor areas.
by Chris Casteel Modified: January 8, 2014 at 10:00 am •  Published: January 7, 2014
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Choctaw Nation Chief Gregory E. Pyle said the tribe was “blessed to work with many regional, county, municipal, school, and university partners who, along with the Choctaw Nation, believe that great things can occur to lift everyone in Southeastern Oklahoma when we work together.

“This designation will assist ongoing efforts to emphasize small business development and bring economic opportunity to the high-need communities. I am confident that access to the technical assistance and resources offered by the Promise Zone designation will result in better lifestyles for people living and working within the Choctaw Nation.”

Tribal spokeswoman Judy Allen said the tribe's proposed zone includes several Census tracts in Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Choctaw, Haskell, Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain, Pittsburg and Pushmataha counties.

The zone has a poverty rate of 22.6 percent, seven points above the national average, and its median income of $33,500 is well below the national average of $50,000. It has the highest rate of violent crime in the state, and one in five residents has less than a high school education, according to the tribe.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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